821st CRG hosts Cali Havoc, test ATAK

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Airmen from the 821st Contingency Response Group worked alongside Airmen from the 39th Airlift Squadron, from Dyess Air Force Base Texas, during exercise Cali Havoc Nov. 13-19.


Cali Havoc is a contingency response-centric exercise that provides CR forces the opportunity to rehearse potential real-world situations in an austere environment by training in aerial port procedures, aircraft engine running off-loads, and cargo uploading and downloading.


The CR teams were spread across Amedee Army Air Field and the Sacramento McClellan Airport in California. During the exercise, they integrated with approximately 30 maintainers and supported three C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 39th AS.


“Our Airmen established a working relationship with the airlift units at Dyess AFB to help them accomplish critical pre-deployment training while simultaneously accomplishing new and recurring training objectives for our units,” said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Kasper, 821st CRG NCO in-charge of group weapons and tactics. “For example, we can accomplish combat off-load training that benefits the C-130 loadmasters as well as our aerial port personnel.” 


Tech. Sgt. Brett Radziewics, contingency response team chief for the exercise, said the training allowed them to organically generate exercise objectives to help facilitate upgrade training for several primary positions.


“There’s no better place to learn than this kind of controlled environment,” Radziewics said. “It enables our Airmen to increase their operational capabilities and maintain their job proficiency.”


Cali Havoc gave CR Airmen time to practice non-standard loading and offloading operations typically used in austere locations.


“The combat offload method B offers us the ability to deliver palletized cargo into an area that does not have the equipment to download it,” said Master Sgt. Matt LeFever, 39th AS operations superintendent. “We usually end up using this method in small or temporary outposts that need to be resupplied. It is a non-standard way to download aircraft, so it is preferred that the loadmasters see it for the first time in a training environment and not in a deployed one.”


During the exercise the team also tested the Android Tactical Assault Kit in an attempt to enhance the contingency response element commander’s overall site picture and streamline mission processes.


ATAK is a cellular phone app which uses GPS maps to give users a real-time view of the operational area. This new capability provides increased situational awareness through “Blue Force Tracking” to help users see where team members are located on the airfield at all times.


“We used the ATAK to layout the airfield and send a live feed directly to the tactical operations center,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Swartz, 821st Contingency Response Squadron. “The CRG usually operates in austere locations, so this system will allow our leadership and defenders immediate situational awareness around the airfield without the use of radio communication.”


The 821st CRG is taking it a step further and not only using ATAK for base defense and tracking assets on the ground, but in the air as well.


“We want to use the ATAK to track cargo in the CRG because we direct airpower anytime, anywhere,” Swartz said. “So it’s vital that we maintain proper accountability of all our equipment we send around the world.”


Capt. Kevin Rowe, 821st Contingency Response Squadron tactics flight commander, called the exercise a success and went on to explain how exercises like these are beneficial.


“Exercise like Cali Havoc are so important for the airmen in the CRW because they allow us to train and create new tactics, techniques, and procedures in a controlled, uncontested environment,” Rowe said. “No contingency operation is ever the same, so the more lessons we can learn from exercises, the more prepared we are for anything that comes our way. We don’t know where we will be called to respond next, but wherever it is, we will be prepared.”